The Excelencias Group, which as every year is present at the International Tourism Fair of Spain, has the opportunity to talk with representatives of the Cuban agency Paradiso, specializing in cultural tourism, which takes to this XXXIX edition of FITUR the proposal of the Caribbean island.
Ileana Echavarría Calderín, commercial specialist for Spain, Portugal, Italy, France, among other markets, talks with Excelencias, accompanied by Miguel Birret, Director of the Paradiso Habana Agency.
What offer does Paradiso bring to a fair like FITUR?
This is a special year for us and Paradiso brings several novelties: it is the 500th anniversary of the city of Havana and we are immersed in promoting that destiny. Our agency has several lines of business, but cultural events are a very important one and Havana is the seat of the main events of this kind that take place in the country. For example, we have the Festival de la Salsa, which this year arrives at its fourth edition; the Drum Festival - will take place in March and is dedicated to Spain - and so on throughout the year.
We also have very important events in Santiago de Cuba, such as the Caribbean Festival; in Holguín, the Ibero-American Festival; in Camagüey; in Varadero - which for us is not only a city pole, but cultural because of the many options it offers.
I should also mention that Paradiso is very important for Spain, which is very interested in historical, cultural tourism; for exchanging with people, for visiting community projects.
We also bring significant developments in the theme of circuits. We work intensely in the recovery of this line that allows the traveler not only to concentrate in Havana, but to know all our country with its diversity of attractions not only tourist, but cultural and we want to show them.
One of these circuits we have called Paradiso, maravillosa Habana, and allows the visitor to know not only the founding nucleus of the city that is in the historic center, but in five days with four nights can make a more extensive tour. It will be running from February to November.
Can we say that this is one of the novelties that Paradiso is presenting at FITUR as a tribute to the 500th anniversary of Havana?
Yes it is. This circuit brings the traveler to the main neighborhoods of Havana because in all of them, the same in Havana Center as in historic Havana, there are very important projects. Many tasks are being done that will be ready for the 500th anniversary and we want the visitor to know them; that is, with this circuit -which can be complemented later with additional nights in other poles of city or beach- we give a vital importance to Havana.
We bring another one called Paradiso Occidente Centro that promotes these areas, but showing the novelty, because it often seems that Cuba does not change, that it always offers the same and it is not like that: every day new things appear in the artistic-cultural order, and this circuit places a lot of emphasis on these novel attractions that Havana has as much as Pinar del Río, Cienfuegos or Trinidad. They are short circuits that are concentrated mainly in the poles of the city, but offer extensions because Cuba is an island with beautiful beaches and hotels of the highest level in it and the visitor will always have the opportunity to supplement those circuits with any other option of that type.
In addition, the eastern carnival is in Santiago de Cuba and we have a circuit that will operate on that date, from July 18 to 27, and which we bring as a novelty. Santiago de Cuba is a very important city and it is very difficult for a traveler not to want to know it and that is why we offer several circuits that go through that city and travel all over the country.
Are these circuits going to be presented here at FITUR?
In FITUR for the first time, they are new. They start in this which is the first fair of the year - and a very important one - and among our fundamental missions is to promote them. But we also have a circuit dedicated to the family that is in the summer, because between the months of June and September is the highest season in Spain to the destination Cuba and the Caribbean in general and, therefore, we have created a family circuit with options for everyone.
Another offer is the circuit De Oriente a Occidente that already explained it, and one that is called Rumba Cubana. There are three manifestations of Cuban culture that today are the intangible heritage of humanity. La Tumba Francesa, which we already knew, but the punto guajiro and rumba has been declared; that is, they are new options because they have acquired a well-deserved condition and arouse interest and we have created circuits that bring them closer to the visitor. The one of the Rumba Cubana is of seven days with six nights and it includes Havana, Cárdenas in transit because it is not fundamental for the rumba and it crosses Matanzas. I must emphasize that in every circuit that touches the western part we always include Matanzas, because it is in transit, the visitor does not know it enough and has recently been declared a tourist city because of how much you can see in it.
In addition to Spanish tourism, which, as you explain, is one of the fundamental pillars on which Paradiso's work is based, what other market, both in Europe and outside of it, are you working with or have you noticed that you have a greater interest in products that the company offers?
Paradiso also has academic cultural services as its line of work. Cuba is a pillar in education in a general sense and, therefore, also in artistic education and we have excellent programs dedicated to academic services. In this line the fundamental market is not Europe, but Latin America, but they are also attractive programs.
A novelty that we bring to FITUR is the Gastrocult event. The Excelencias Group was one of its sponsors in the edition that was just celebrated in January and we have already brought the 2020 proposal because it will be dedicated to Cuban gastronomy that is inextricably linked to the Spanish one, that is, for us very important
We also have, as other receptive, with excursions. We have very attractive cultural options such as ballet performances, cultural centers - because we belong to the Ministry of Culture and the ARTEX agency - and all the services of art, books, discography (from dance music or the so-called cult), Paradiso offers them.
You asked me about the main markets and I have to tell you that Europe is a consumer par excellence of cultural tourism, but also Latin America, among which is Mexico. In the southern cone is also growing the interest to travel to Cuba, and above all what the visitor takes as experience, is the Cuban culture. Beautiful hotels are everywhere, beautiful beaches -not all like those in Cuba- but you can find them. However, Cuban eclectic culture, as diverse, as complete, as Cuban is, that is what leaves the traveler alive and repeats. That's what Paradiso offers.
I would like to add that our agency is celebrating its 25th anniversary on May 12, 2019, and to these circuits, in addition to their names, we have called them Silver Weddings because we are married to culture: it is a marriage with history, with culture and with Cuban people and everyone who can join us in the celebration will have our doors open, as does the Excelencias Group.